In Windows, you can set a default app of your choice for a specific type of file, (PDF) in this case. Though this feature has been available for a long time, the process to do so tends to vary with each iteration of the Windows operating system.
By default, Windows 11 opens the PDF files with Microsoft Edge, though it is convenient to not have a separate app just for viewing PDFs, you might require a bit more tools and/or functionalities to annotate, split, or even merge multiple PDFs together which is not possible in Microsoft Edge.
Or on the flip side, you do not require any more functionalities but wish to open the PDFs with any other browser that you may use instead of Microsoft Edge. Whatever be your preferences or need be, using this guide you can easily change the default PDF viewer.
Changing the Default PDF Viewer from the Settings App
Changing the default PDF viewer is a very simple process and can be very easily done from the Settings app on your Windows 11 device.
To do so, first, head to the Start Menu and click on the ‘Settings’ app tile present under the ‘pinned apps’ section. Otherwise, type Settings in the menu to perform a search for it.
Next, in the Settings window, click on the ‘Apps’ tab present on the left sidebar to proceed.
After that, from the right section of the window, locate and click on the ‘Default Apps’ tile to continue.
Now in Windows 11, you can either set a default app by searching for a particular file type or you can head to individual app settings and set the file type that can be opened by it.
To search for a file type and select a default app for it, on the ‘default apps’ settings screen, type .pdf in the ‘search’ bar present under the ‘Set a default for a file type or link type’ section. Now, from the search results, click on the tile displaying just below the search bar to change the default app. This will open a separate overlay window on your screen.
Now, from the overlay window on your screen, click on the ‘Switch anyway’ button to proceed and view the list of apps that you can use to view PDFs on your device.
Then, from the separate overlay window, scroll to locate and click on your preferred app from the list, and then click on the ‘OK’ button to apply the settings. Your PDFs will now open in the selected app. In case you are not able to locate your preferred app click on the ‘More apps’ option present in the window to expand the list.
In case you wish to see all the file types supported by an app and change the default PDF viewer this way, you can either use the search bar present right under the ‘Set defaults for applications’ section and type the name of your preferred app in it. Otherwise, you can manually scroll down the list to locate the app.
Once located, click on the app tile to proceed further and see the list of all supported file types by the app.
Then, on the next screen, scroll to locate the .PDF section on the screen and click on the tile present just underneath it to proceed. This will open a separate overlay window on your screen.
Now, from the overlay window on your screen, scroll to locate and click on your preferred app from the list. Then, click on the ‘OK’ button present in the bottom right corner of the window to apply the settings. In case you are not able to locate the app of your choice, click on the ‘More apps’ option to expand the list.
And that’s it, you have successfully changed the default app for PDF files on your Windows 11 device.
Changing the Default PDF Viewer from the File Context Menu
In case you do not wish to head to the Settings app and hop the hurdles of the menu. You can take an alternate route using the file context menu where you can change the default PDF viewer in just a couple of clicks. It is much faster than the Settings app method and is much more convenient as well.
To change the default PDF viewer this way, first, head to the directory in which the PDF file you wish to open is located. You can open File Explorer to navigate by clicking on the ‘This PC’ icon present on your desktop or you press the Windows+E keys together on your keyboard to do so.
Next, once you have located the PDF file, right-click on it to reveal the context menu and hover over the ‘Open with’ option to expand the section. Then, from the expanded section, click on the ‘Choose another app’ option to proceed. This will open a separate overlay window on your screen.
Now, from the overlay window, scroll to locate your preferred app and click on it to select. In case you are not able to find the app you wish to select, click on the ‘More apps’ option to expand the list.
Once you have located the desired app, click on it to select. Then, click on the checkbox preceding ‘always open files using this app’ option and finally click on the ‘OK’ button to apply the settings. Your default app is now changed to your selected app.
There you go, folks, hopefully, using this guide you can change the default PDF viewer app on your Windows 11 system.